Senator Dick Durbin just introduced an amendment to S. 1692. His amendment would require the use of National Security Letters to be restricted to investigations that are related to suspected terrorism or spying. The amendment would only stop the government from using the Patriot Act’s National Security Letters to spy on Americans private lives when those Americans are not suspected of connection to foreign spy operations or terrorist conspiracies.
Durbin pointed out that, under the Patriot Act extension supported by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republicans and a group of Democrats led by Senator Patrick Leahy, National Security Letters could be used to intrude in the Americans’ personal affairs “even when there is no connection whatsoever to suspected terrorism or spying”. Durbin noted that there has been widespread “”We now know for a fact that the FBI has issued National Security Letters for the library books of innocent Americans.”
Senator Jon Kyl responded that Durbin’s amendment would threaten investigations in their earliest stages, because people conducting terrorism investigations cannot be expected to know whether the people they are investigating are suspected of involvement in terrorism. But then, if the people being investigated are not known to be connected to terrorism in any way, why are they being investigated?